Traits and Signs of an Empath
What Is an Empath?
An empath is a person who has an above-average ability to sense the emotions and energies of the people and surroundings they encounter. They may also be referred to as emotionally hypersensitive, or highly sensitive. Being an empath is hugely beneficial when it comes to relating to others and/or the universe as a whole.
Unfortunately, empaths are often misunderstood, and therefore mislabeled, as bi-polar or manic-depressive. Being an empath is not a curse, although it can feel that way until you learn how to cope with all the stimuli you encounter. For an empath, a seemingly regular day can be overwhelming for many reasons. Subtle stimulants encountered on a daily basis can be overstimulating. Energies associated with touch, sound, scent, light, activity, and conversation are all examples of things that an empath can deeply and quickly absorb, often resulting in mental confusion, emotional upset, and even physical discomfort. If you are an empath, it is just genetically "how you were made," so there is no cure for it. It has been said that 1 in 20 people are empaths, which shows it's a lot more common than one would think.
The 5 Common Types of Empaths
Signs a Person Is an Empath or Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
- They have a strong sense of knowing: Beyond intuition and gut feelings, empaths just know things. The more you become in tune with your ability, the stronger this trait can become. Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. Synchronicity—think of it as a wink from the cosmos! Scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in fractal geometry, quantum physics, and the chaos theory. It has been determined that the separation and/or isolation of objects from one another is much more apparent than real; at deep levels, everything—atoms, cells, molecules, people, plants, animals—are all participating in a sensitive, connective, and flowing network of information. Physicists have proven, as an example, that if two photons are separated, no matter the distance, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other. Empaths are likely to have varying paranormal experiences throughout their lives as well, including near-death experiences (NDEs) and out-of-body experiences (OBEs).
- Strangers easily unload emotion on them: An empath can become a dumping ground for everyone else’s issues and problems, which, if they’re not careful, can end up as their own. It is not uncommon for an empath to be told an entire life story by perfect strangers in a matter of minutes. People, animals, and children are drawn to empaths like magnets. It's as if the empath is a sudden sounding and solution board for other people's issues, problems, or opinions. This is difficult for many empaths, myself included, as what many may assume is a simple conversation is actually an exercise in emotion overload for an empath. When out and about, I am often randomly bombarded with the chatter of other people. It does not take long for me to get a whole life story in a matter of minutes. It could all be symbolic, but I wear certain stones placed in pendants when I go out and it seems to prevent this. When I forget to wear them, I pay the price of being emotionally drained. The two that work best for me are labradorite and smokey quartz.
- They absorb the emotions of others: Empaths have a unique ability to pick up other people's emotional energy and take it on as their own. This can occur whether an empath is near a person, far from a person, or just thinking of a person—distance is not an issue here. For example, it is possible for an empath to pick up on negative thoughts from another person who is miles away. It can feel odd sometimes, as you may suddenly find yourself brought to tears or in a fit of rage, without much explanation.
- They find public places overwhelming: Any place that contains too much energy can be a miserable place for an empath. Because of their ability to absorb others' energies, places like shopping malls, concert venues, grocery stores, traffic jams, hospitals, retirement homes, even thrift stores, garage sales and graveyards can be unbearable. Ever notice that you can hike in the woods for miles and not be exhausted, but a trip to the grocery store can be unbearable?
- They have a nose for the truth: An empath just "knows" when someone is being dishonest or telling a lie, and insincerity, phoniness, or fake behavior is easily spotted. Many empaths are constantly seeking and looking for truth and just behavior in those they associate with. This becomes more prevalent when an empath discovers his/her gifts and birthright. Anything untruthful feels just plain wrong.
- They experience sudden physical pain, suffering, or illness: Many empaths are bombarded with mysterious illnesses, or pain that cannot be diagnosed by modern medicine. Being an empath is draining; it's unsurprising that they are often fatigued and suffer from migraines, sore throats, and aches and pains with no discernible cause. But the cause actually is clear—it is from absorbing others' energies. Until an empath learns to diffuse the various energies they have come to contain, these ailments will not resolve. In addition to energy, empaths can also pick up physical pains and ailments from others (especially those they are very close to). They are more specifically prone to ailments in their throat, root, and solar plexus chakras. This is why grounding, staying true to yourself, and voicing yourself is very important.
- They cannot tolerate worldly news, radio, TV, newspapers, violence, or cruelty: The more attuned an empath becomes, the harder it will be for them to listen or hear this type of information. It can become so intolerable that they have to halt receiving this information altogether.
- They commonly experience digestive disorders and back pain: The solar plexus chakra is based in the center of the abdomen and is known as the seat of emotions. This is where empaths feel incoming emotions from another, which can weaken the area and lead to stomach ulcers, IBS, constipation, eating disorders, and lower back problems (from being ungrounded). Most empaths unaware of their ability commonly complain of these ailments.
- They often have addictive personalities: Alcohol and drug abuse are common for empaths. By polluting the mind, an empath attempts to block out and protect themselves from emotional energies they do not want to feel or absorb. Although using substances to numb difficult energies may feel good temporarily, it obviously causes a multitude of secondary problems. Additionally, substances attract lower frequency energies, so it is especially important for empaths to turn to higher frequency coping tools, such as sobriety, prayer, and God.
- They are drawn to holistic, natural healing and all things metaphysical: Empaths often become natural healers (once they learn to use their abilities properly). This may explain why so many empaths are attracted to professions that involve healing—therapy, teaching, veterinary work, psychiatry, and medicine are a few commonly chosen fields of work or study. At the same time, there are also empaths who wish to avoid these trades because of the overwhelming energies attached to them.
- They are creative and inquisitive: Empaths are very creative and adore anything from music, drawing, painting, photography, acting, writing, singing, and dancing. They have a gift for creating that is often paired with a vivid imagination. Their interests are vast, varied, and ever changing! If you are an empath, you will likely flutter from one thing to another, never feeling like you can possibly learn enough. You may notice your side of the bed is stacked with books, or that you have a never-ending list of hobbies or things you wish to explore.
- They need regular solitude: Although it seems like a contradiction (because they often appear extroverted), empaths require large amounts of downtime and solitude so that they can shut out the world, process, and rejuvenate. This is not to be confused with avoidance, depression, or something being "wrong." They simply need time to reflect and clear their minds—this is especially obvious in empath children. Empaths like to be alone because being alone is not the same as being lonely for them. It is actually not uncommon for empaths to remain single and/or childless throughout their lifetimes, as close relationships can be very challenging unless respected boundaries are established.
- They get bored and distracted easily: Work, school, and home life have to be kept interesting and stimulating, or an empath is likely to tune out and daydream.
- They love nature and animals: Nature and the outdoors are especially important for empaths to feel grounded and at peace. Water is especially helpful, and owning a pet is almost always essential for their happiness.
- They seek answers and knowledge: Empaths are often problem solvers who seek the truth and study many things. To have unanswered questions can be frustrating, and they will endlessly search to find an explanation. If they have a "knowing" about something, they will look for confirmation. The downside to this quality is information overload, and a brain that won't turn off and be quiet.
- They root for the underdog and underprivileged: Empaths are highly compassionate. Anyone suffering, in emotional pain, handicapped, injured, or being bullied draws an empath's attention.
- They cannot tolerate clutter: The immediate environment of an empath is something they can easily control and is a reflection of their mental health. This is not to say they are OCD, but clutter is like mental weight for them. It blocks energy flow, so they are inclined to remove it. Their homes are simple and clean, and unnecessary clutter is promptly removed. You typically will not find an empath who is a hoarder.
- They cannot tolerate restrictive clothing or jewelry: Some empaths may find that types of clothing textures or jewelry can be too restrictive. These adornments may feel uncomfortable, itchy, heavy, or just "not right." Therefore, a lot of empaths may appear to be "plain Janes." They also likely prefer only very specific pieces of jewelry or clothing fabric, and they will tend to wear these all the time.
- They love freedom, travel, adventure, and the road less traveled: Empaths are natural-born free spirits. Anything that takes away their freedom is crippling to their happiness. This includes routine, strict rules, and codependent relationships. It is not unusual for empaths to have experienced many things in life, even when still young, making them appear wise beyond their years—it's as if they have an "old soul." Many are born and just skip childhood all-together, seemingly always having been an adult. Many of an empath's life experiences could be considered rather extreme, adventurous, or daring, and this ultimately allows them to be more open and receptive to various people, perspectives, and events.
- They cannot tolerate narcissism: Overly egotistical people, or those who are self-centered and refuse to consider others' points of view, are intolerable to empaths and are usually avoided as much as possible.
- They sense the energy of food: Many empaths don’t like to eat meat, seafood, or poultry because they can feel the energy of the animal (especially if the animal suffered or was inhumanely treated before death), even if they like the taste. Weight issues can easily become a problem, as there are some HSPs who become overweight because they use food to dull their emotional sensitivity.
- They an be perceived as moody, aloof, or disconnected: How an empath is feeling will determine what face they show to the world. They are prone to mood swings, and they can appear quiet, unsociable, or miserable when they've taken on too much negativity. If you are an empath and find yourself feeling this way, a good question to ask yourself is, "What am I carrying right now? Is this emotion mine?"
- They detest doing things they don't enjoy: This is not to be confused with laziness—an empath does not like to do or live in a way that feels like a "lie."
- They instinctively feel time, days of the week/month, weather, or direction: It is not uncommon for an empath to arrive at their destination without maps or directions—they can get there by "knowing." The same thing goes for time and days of the week or year, and they are also extremely sensitive to climate changes.
- They dislike antique, vintage, or secondhand items: Some empaths prefer to buy new when financially feasible so as to avoid absorbing the energies from a previous owner. I personally do not have a problem with this trait, and almost prefer secondhand, mainly because these shopping locations are not typically overly populated, and I don't have a six-figure income. I also find I become emotionally comforted by certain "used" items, but also repulsed by others. It just depends on the item.
- They are great listeners: Empaths make great listeners. This can become a burden when they socialize too much, as they can become over-energized from engaging with so many other people and energies. They often only share their personal information with those who they trust and are extremely close to. Empaths make great friends, but are crushed if a friendship is mistreated. Over time, they learn to become far more selective—while they may have a large circle of friends and can blend in with just about any type of crowd or personality, they generally only have a few “close” friendships. Once those close relationships are established, empaths find a good exchange of love and respect. These relationships often last a lifetime.
Positives of Being an Empath
- Instinctively knowing the energy of people and places.
- Using sensitivity to promote peace, understanding, and healing.
- Can easily manipulate energy.
What an Empath Is Not!
Empaths are highly sensitive people who have the capacity to tune into the energies around them. They are not:
- Emotionally immature.
- Narcissistic, ego-driven, or self-centered.
- Unpredictable and unstable.
- Demanding, attention thirsty, or creators of drama.
Empathy should never be used for personal gain or manipulation.
Signs of an Imbalanced or Sick Empath
- Physical pain, stomach issues, headaches, and over- or under-eating are HUGE warning signs. Don't ignore these—they are signs of imbalance.
- Feeling spaced out, confused, and disconnected (sometimes for extended periods of days or weeks).
- Wild mood swings after being around toxic people.
- Feeling like you’re swirling around and around with nowhere to call home (ungrounded). The mind can go to very dark places if allowed.
- Preferring solitude to an extreme (wanting to always be alone, and avoiding places and people). Downtime and rejuvenation are necessary and healthy for an empath, but going into complete "avoidance" mode is not.
- Feeling alone when you are in a crowded place or feeling invisible to others.
Solutions and Coping Skills for Living With Empath Abilities
To avoid falling prey to mental overload, drug addiction, depression, and a sense of disconnect, follow these simple suggestions to help cope with the effects of being an empath:
- Stay creative, whatever that means for you. Sing, dance, draw, etc...
- Learn to guard your own energy—this is very important. How can you do this? Breathe, and when you focus on your breath, remind yourself of what is yours, and what is not. Make a point to meditate on a regular basis, even if you can only commit to a few times a week. The key is staying consistent.
- Use your voice (many empaths lose track of who they are because of emotions they absorb). It's very easy for an empath to become sick and disconnected from the self, reducing their ability to speak for themselves and maintain their sense of individuality and health.
- Get outside! Go for walks, take hikes, admire and get involved in nature—lay in the sun, or put your bare feet on the ground.
- Use water! If possible, get near an ocean ASAP. Water is a huge emotional cleanser and energy remover for an empath. Drink plenty of water, and when you feel you are covered in emotional slime, take a shower, or do a detox bath.
- Keep your chakras open. Again, this means speaking up for yourself, taking time for solitude, and staying balanced with yoga, prayer, and meditation. Give your worries and overwhelm to God.
- Use stones and crystals—these are easily found at apothecary shops or online. Smokey quartz is highly protective and grounding, as well as labarodite, and black tourmaline (these are my personal favorites as my grounding has not been mastered). You can really use any object that you determine is a talisman for you. The point is to change the tape in your head that leads to overwhelm, and objects that hold meaning for you can help change attention.
- Avoid negativity and stress when possible, especially from people!
- Limit time with TVs, news, electronics, and places that drain your energy. This also goes for people—keep people who are like "emotional vampires" away.
- When anxious, close your eyes, envision your chakras, and remind yourself of what is yours and what is not. This helps you stay grounded. Use chakra healing techniques.
- Learn grounding, centering, and shielding skills.
- Pray. Prayer is extremely healing, uplifting, and motivating. Pray often to Spirit/God. Pray with grace and gratitude.
- Seek outside help from an energy practitioner or spiritual healer.
- Find support groups, therapy, churches (or whatever form of spiritual practice that works for you), as well as consider group fitness classes.
- Try to look for at least one positive thing every day!
Are You an Empath?
Answer this question after reading the traits
Embrace Your Ability
Above all, embrace your ability. People of all walks of life, as well as animals and children, are attracted to the warmth and genuine compassion of empaths. Others may not be aware that someone is an empath, but they will still be drawn to them as a metal object is to a magnet!
I've finally started coming into my own with my empathy and hypersensitivity and recently felt compelled to write this because of how unbearable things had become. For so long, I thought I was a sick codependent, but I am not. The journey has been long, confusing, and tedious, sometimes even sick and heart-wrenching, but I wouldn't change myself for a second. Still, sometimes it is very daunting to deal with. We are all unique souls on individual paths, with individual lessons and purposes. I hope this article helps others who may or may not be aware of their abilities, and that the information included will offer comfort, support, and tools for dealing with being a highly sensitive and empathic person. For so long I thought of this as a curse, but am finally starting to see it as a blessing, and am looking forward to the path ahead.
So Much Empath Information!
- Empath Sickness | Rob's Magick Blog
Empath sickness is probably the most common problem found among practitioners of magic and naturally gifted psychics. It seems to be a problem among members of every single magical religion and spiritual group. If you haven't yet suffered from it you
- Empaths | Scoop.it
News about Empaths - people acutely sensitive and empathic to others feelings
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Rebecca